A PROTEST campaign was held in Bolton town centre on Saturday to make people aware of the proposed closure of one of the town’s three mental health wards.

Led by members of Unison and the Bolton West Constituency Labour Party (CLP), the petition-signing event was staged in Victoria Square aimed at stopping Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust pressing ahead with its plans.

The trust, which covers Bolton, Salford and Trafford, is proposing to make £2.3 million a year savings from cuts to local services.

A period of consultation which started in November finishes at the end of this month.
Protest organiser Karen Reissman said she was convinced 99 per cent of people in Bolton were unaware of the proposals.

She said: “We want to let the public know because the period of consultation is coming to an end.”

Ms Reissman said that the proposals — which could mean a total loss of 29 adult beds across Bolton and Salford — had been successfully opposed in Trafford, where plans for cuts had now been dropped.

If the proposal goes ahead, elderly and mental health beds for Bolton and Salford will be centralised at Woodlands in Little Hulton, with the loss of 25 older-age beds.

“They want to replace one ward in Bolton and another in Salford and replace them with community care, but this will leave people suffering with mental health hopelessly exposed,” said Ms Reissman.

So far, the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Bolton and Salford say they their plans have not been affected by Trafford’s decision to pull out in the face of strong opposition.

A meeting of Bolton CCG heard that Trafford’s decision has had “no impact” on the decisionmaking process.

Su Long,  chief officer of NHS Bolton CCG, said: “In terms of the process there is no impact. Bolton is on a different contract and the potential savings would not be affected by Trafford’s decision — at the moment we are continuing with our consultation.”

More than 20 members of the public attended the CCG meeting, many of whom expressed concern about the potential impact of the changes.

Addressing the board, Jim Faucet said: “These wards are such an important part of the town’s mental health facilities — if they are taken away, you as doctors will take that responsibility for ever. It will be a disaster.”

For more information visit boltonccg.nhs.uk/news-and-events/506-have-your-say-on-mental-health-services.

The consultation will end on March 30 and the CCG will make its decision on April 25.